Over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements and their effect on lab test results

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and dietary supplements are widely used and popular, with US households spending an average of almost USD 350 annually on OTC products. In 2006 an average of EUR 67.50 was spent per person on OTC products in Germany.

The use of various OTC drugs and dietary supplements is highly prevalent in Europe and patients are often not willing to disclose this information to laboratory staff and the ordering physician as a survey published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, published by De Gruyter in association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM), shows.

The study reports on the results of a survey of patients in 18 European countries which shows that those taking OTC products and dietary supplements are not aware of the potential effects on laboratory test results they may have. In addition, patients do not believe that they need to disclose this use to medical and/or laboratory staff.

The study shows that dietary supplements and OTC drugs are more frequently used by middle-aged patients – especially women – with the most common being multivitamins, multiminerals, cranberry and aspirin. All of these compounds, if consumed shortly before blood sampling, may cause changes in lab test results, thus leading to interpretation difficulties and possibly incorrect diagnoses.

Although more data is needed about the frequency of the consumption of various dietary products, vitamins or OTC drugs, the authors believe that a multifaceted approach is necessary to draw attention to the issue using educational interventions which target both healthcare professionals and patients.

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Timing Of Protein Supplements Can Affect Weight Management

A high protein diet has plenty of health benefits but if you’re supplementing your intake with shakes or snacks, new research suggests that you should keep the timing of your consumption in mind. 

A research review published in Nutrition Reviews has found that while protein supplements effectively increase lean mass in all users, consuming them between meals promoted weight gain. Consuming them with meals, however, helped with the maintenance of body weight while decreasing fat mass.

“It may matter when you take your supplements in relation to when you eat meals, so people who consume protein supplements in between meals as snacks may be less likely to be successful in managing their body weight,” said Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and senior author on the study.

The researchers suggest that timing of protein supplements might impact the amount of overall calories people consume, with those downing a shake with their lunch eating less than they usually would.

“Such dietary compensation is likely missing when protein supplements are consumed as snacks. Calories at meal times may not be adjusted to offset the supplement’s calories, thus leading to a higher calorie intake for that day,” said Campbell.

“If the goal is to manage weight, then snacking on protein supplements may be less effective. People who are trying to gain weight may consider consuming protein supplements between meals.”

Despite the growing popularity of supplements, this is the first time the issue has been investigated and Campbell says it will need to be followed up with further studies. 

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